In less than seven months, electorates in Nigeria will be marching to the polls to elect another set of leaders who will pilot the affairs of the country and many states of the federation for another four years. As it is known, election, unfortunately, receives the utmost attention from political gladiators in the country while governance is always subjected to the outcome of electoral decisions.
For Oyo State, the atmosphere is changing already and there are permutations, alignments and realignments among the major players to determine who succeeds Ajimobi, the incumbent governor come 2019. In the light of this, TheEcho‘s Tope Lanre Bello and Babawale Oke write on the chances of the leading aspirants on the platforms of All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Enjoy!
BAYO ADELABU– APC
Adelabu, notwithstanding his career success which peaked with his appointment as a Deputy Governor of CBN from where he recently resigned, is a greenhorn in politics having never held any political office before making his ambition to govern Oyo state popular. This in itself is not a disadvantage as many in the state are clamouring for fresh air in the political space as they claim to be tired of the way old politicians are recycled in the state. The Agbaakin Parakoyi of Ibadan has a lot of things working for him and among them is his being a descendant of the foremost Ibadan politician, Alhaji Adegoke Adelabu and he is yet to be soiled by any major scandal save his distant link to the Diezani Allison-Madueke’s fraud. His chances at the poll will be based on how convincing his “The Next Level” agenda is and his supporters will be referencing how he facilitated the building of Oyo State Technical University as well as his many other philanthropic gestures. He is the chairman, Board of Governors, Lagelu Grammar School as well as being the Chairman, Oyo State Security Trust Fund Board of Trustees.
All these do not however count in Oyo state nay Nigerian politics as party primary delegates do not vote with their heads but with their pockets. Even with that, Chief Bayo Adelabu has the money.
TEMITOPE OLATOYE (A.K.A. SUGAR)– APC
Olatoye was the honourable representing Lagelu Local Government constituency between 2011 and 2015 and he is the present honourable representing Lagelu-Akinyele Federal Constituency at the House of Representatives in the National Assembly. He is popular across the state because of his many indiscriminate empowerment programmes as he has touched almost every corner of the 33 local governments that make up Oyo State. However, there is an albatross around his neck which makes his supposed buried past stare him in the face. He had a murder case as far back as 2004 in Ogun State which only got struck out in 2015 but his political detractors will hammer on the unmarketability of an allegedly well-known political cultist of Gbenga Daniel era in the Osiele axis of Ogun State. Besides, he has a rebellious inclination and this may not put him in the good book of the incumbent. In all, it is not expected of APC to gamble their uncertain chance at the poll with political jobbers of Sugar’s ilk. His philanthropic gestures will be his major point of reference while soliciting for votes. Time heals all wounds and his past atrocities may not even, at the end of the day, count. After all, this is Nigeria!
OLUFEMI LANLEHIN– PDP
No doubts, Lanlehin is one of the most well-known political gladiators in the state but his name seems to be eroding electorate’s minds as we draw nearer to the general elections. As one of the top contenders for the ticket of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the Pacesetter state, he relies on the anointing of a former governor of the state, Rashidi Ladoja than his own popularity among the masses. In fact, reports from many political quarters tipped him as the choicest for Ladoja.
Unlike the APC where it is almost certain that the ’child’ of the incumbent governor will eventually carry the day during the primaries, clinching the PDP’s ticket based on the preference of the leader of the party alone will be a herculean task. In fact, Lanlehin with his faction led by the Osi Olubadan has threatened several times to dump the main opposition due to an alleged ‘impunity’. The concept of impunity in Nigerian politics is relative though; once your uncontrolled excesses are not given practical expression, it becomes impunity.
Even if Lanlehin and his people pull out of the PDP, they will be heading to a party that hardly has a structure across all the wards in the state and that translates to a journey in futility. Also, it will be difficult for the Ibadan politician to give the money-bags from other parties a serious challenge at the polls. An equation that will most probably work for him is to clinch the ticket of the PDP, work against mass exodus from the party and learn how to play grassroots politics. But then, the readiness of Seyi Makinde to play a behind-the-scene role in the forthcoming elections is not guaranteed.
ADEBAYO ALAO AKALA– APC
Though it looks like a distant past, Alao Akala is the immediate past governor of Oyo State as he occupied the topmost office in the state between 2007 and 2011 under the platform of the PDP when he was ousted by the incumbent. Since 2011, the Ogbomoso born politician has been maneuvering and out-maneuvered political friends and foes alike in the murky waters of Nigerian brand of politics.
After contesting (and losing again to the incumbent) the Oyo guber poll in 2015 with Labour Party as his platform, he defected to the ruling APC, he recently made his ambition to have his shot again at the Oyo governorship race. Chief Adebayo Alao Akala is the most popular of all scheming to get the APC ticket and he still has some cult-like following in the Oyo North Senatorial zone of the state which comprises three out of the five local councils of his native town, Ogbomosho and the expansive Oke-Ogun area. His popularity in Ibadan, the state capital is however obscure.
However, one thing that is sure is that the emergence of the ruling party’s candidate will be largely dependent on the person’s cordial and steady relationship with Governor Abiola Ajimobi. Would Ajimobi be trusty of his erstwhile foe and make him succeed himself? But then, there is neither permanent friend nor enemy in politics but permanent interest. Should Àkálà eventually outsmart Ajimobi to grab the party ticket, his candidacy will be a hard nut to crack for the best any of the opposition party has got to offer.
He is still popular in some circles in the state where he is admired for the spendthrift attitude of his first tenure. But using the modern parlance, first thing first, Adebayo Alao Akala has got to win the party primary. But, he can always opt out when the game does not go his way. Finally, and most importantly, Àkálà would be the greatest beneficiary of the recent pronouncement of Comrade Adams Oshiomole, the APC National Chairman, that all card carrying members of the party would be voting in party primaries. Àkálà is surely the most popular of them (aspirants) all in Oyo APC, today.
BAYO SHITTU– APC
Barrister Shittu is another Adebayo jostling for the Agodi’s most coveted office. He once described himself as The Bayo You can Trust and the present Minister of Communication will once again echo that appellation as he contends his party ticket with two other Bayos. The Oke-Ogun born politician has been harping on the fact that his zone has never produced the state governor and he hopes to break the jinx. His mainstream political odyssey started in the 2nd republic when he was an Oyo State Assembly honourable and after he defected to the Federal ruling party, he became the State Commissioner for Information under the governorship of Dr Olunloyo.
He has been contesting Oyo gubernatorial race since 2003. His chances in getting the APC ticket will be largely influenced by how well he manages the cold war between him and the incumbent, Governor Ajimobi. Ajimobi has proved on many occasions that he is the man in charge of the party leadership in Oyo and the self-assertion Ṣakí born politician cannot play a siddon look game in political calculation. He has a cordial relationship with President Buhari but this is not expected to lead him anywhere as Buhari himself will trade his unrepentant loyalist’s ambition with his second term guileful shenanigans.
His support base is the Òkè-Ògùn region of the state (which is very inconsequential though) and he has a formidable task of outshining former governor Àkálà who enjoys a large following from the region. This writer does not see Barrister Shittu emerging the flag-bearer of APC as he would once again sacrifice his ambition for his political mentor, President Buhari.
This journalist wouldn’t like to dance to the tune of ‘he’s just looking for an appointment’ music being sung by many inhabitants of the state. But if the voice of the people is truly the voice of God, the journey to Agodi Government House might be the most tedious trip for the Ibadan-born politician.
The Asaju Balogun Olubadan has the experience and expertise, unfortunately, popularity wins an election. Recently, he has taken it as a role to criticize some of the policies of the state government but the momentum for his emergence seems not to be gathering the much-needed waves. More so, he also belongs to Ladoja’s camp where Lanlehin is domiciled. First, he has the duty of emerging as the internal, internal favourite before standing tall to fight for the soul of the PDP as a party. Without mincing words, Alli has a seemingly insurmountable mountain to climb.
His alleged betrayal of Akala in the 2015 elections is still fresh in the minds of aggrieved members. Even if the lawyer scales through all the hurdles as stated above, does he have the financial power to stage the real battle? Time will definitely provide answers to all these.
Akintola’s name has preceded him into the mainstream politics of the 4th Republic as the brilliant lawyer and human right activist has been active in politics since 1980s. He is particularly popular for his winning the tribunal cases for many governorswho had earlier been declared the losers by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the guber polls. Most notably among the cases are the cases which restored the mandate of Comrade Oshiomole in 2008, Mimiko in 2009, and Fayemi in 2010.
He was the deputy speaker of the Oyo State Assembly in the aborted third Republic and he is by any standard not a political novice. One thing that will certainly be a stumbling block to his ambition is the fragile weight of his bank account as he has no financial muscle of the like of Adelabu, Àkálà, Shittu, and even Sugar. Yet, he is a force to reckon with as there is no blot to his person. Yet, if antecedents alone can win votes in Nigeria, late Gani Fawehinmi would have become the country’s president and Akintola’s associate, Comrade Moshood Erubami would have accomplished his House of Representatives ambition.
A huge factor in favour of Akintola is the fact that he too is said to be in the good book of the present governor. For a lawyer who has won different election tribunal cases for his party, he is expected to have mastered the art of manipulation that accompanies elections even if that election is just a primary.
SEYI MAKINDE– PDP
The Omi Titun bearer is gradually becoming old in the field of politics. As a greenhorn in 2015, his wealth paved way for him. Although the way he only led him back to his house, but it did well by creating the much-needed awareness for subsequent election(s) to come. He’s banking on that advantage to further give the highest political office in Oyo another shot come 2019. The oil magnate is ready to spend a fortune to emerge as the governor of the state.
However, the first battle he must win, like every other candidate, is emerging as the flag-bearer of his party, the PDP. He is surely not a choice for Ladoja but where money sneezes, age and experience hide their face. Apart from securing the ticket of the party, he must also be assured of Ladoja’s support. Although the popularity of Ladoja is fast dwindling, but number is the most important factor in politics. If Ladoja and his loyalists take a flight off the party, that is a bad omen for Makinde in the forthcoming election.
He has recently got Dotun Oyelade as the head of his media team. Although the Dotun we know during Akala’s reign is different from the Dotun we see in action now; the fainting voice used to know for its lackluster approach to policy issues is only being sustained by experience.
His incessant philanthropic gestures have put him in the good book of many electorates. However, his promise to always give out bursary to thousands of students in higher institutions on a yearly basis is yet to see the light of the day since 2015. While another batch of would-be beneficiaries have been selected, when the money will be disbursed is still not known; it’s certainly before 2019 governorship election. Never mind the fact that many of them are now graduates.
There is no gainsaying that Makinde will be the best candidate for the PDP but his chance of winning the election is subjected to who the APC eventually presents to the masses. He used to be the leading money-bag in the state’s politics before Adelabu joined. If they both emerge as the flag-bearers of their respective parties, it will turn out a billionaires-contest. After all, politics in Nigeria is all about the biggest pocket and not the most brilliant mind. If the APC presents Akala, Makinde has the popularity battle to fight.
Ultimately, the final say is in the hands of the masses; that’s if there is no a momentary pause to their reasoning over a morsel of eba.